McLeod Russel eyeing tea plantations in Africa (Lead)

July 28th, 2009 - 7:43 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, July 28 (IANS) The world’s largest tea producer, McLeod Russel India is eyeing plantations in Africa, a top company official said here Tuesday.
“Logically, I would love to go to Africa because it is god’s country for tea. The first focus will be Kenya. Once we go there, we will start looking for opportunities,” said company managing director Aditya Khaitan.

The acquisitions will add around 5-10 million kg to McLeod Russel’s total production, Khaitan told reporters on the sidelines of the company’s annual general meeting.

Asked how much the company would have to shell out for these acquisitions, he said it would be at least around $10 million. “We want to go wherever we can to add value. We have to grow by acquisition.”

In 2005, McLeod Russel acquired Williamson Tea Assam from the London-based Magor family, which founded a partnership firm, Williamson Magor in India in 1869.

Two years later, it acquired Doomdooma Tea Co from Hindustan Unilever and Britain’s Moran Holdings of Britain in 2007.

The company has also acquired a Vietnamese tea company, Phu Ben, through its wholly-owned unit in Britain, Borelli Tea Holdings.

“Our strategy, going forward, is that between 20-30 percent of our total production should come from outside India in the next five years,” Khaitan said.

At present, the company produces around 80 million kg of tea annually, and exports around 30 million kg.

Talking about his outlook on the industry, Khaitan said: “Considering the drought that hit India in the first two-three months of the current fiscal, the overall tea production in the country will be down by 20-25 million kilograms this year, and 70-75 million kilograms in 2010-11.”

India’s total production last fiscal was 980 million kg.

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